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Website Design News
Third Party Web Apps And Plug-ins
Posted on Friday, 12th March 2010 - 11:28 am by Refresh Creations Ltd
Add This, Add That, Place our Badge on your Blog
for enhanced traffic reporting, Google Anal...what? With so many
third party plug-ins available to website designers nowadays I
thought it best to weigh up the advantages and disadvantages of
using these handy website plug-ins.
Advantages of using 3rd Party
Many offer specialist functionality, which can be replicated
across any site on the internet. Saving you the trouble of
spending a large number of hours coding away to replicate the
same feat. A personal favourite tool I`ve been using on more
recent sites is the "Add This" button after being
recommended by Matt from Creative SEO a while ago.
This particular tool allows users to quickly bookmark your
web-page to either their browsers bookmark list or countless
social networking sites. It`s still being updated with new sites
To code and maintain such a tool on your own would just be a pain
in the ass! Thank goodness someone has done this for us all to
use already. An alternative would be to simply use a couple of
the main social networking sites and spread them across the site
which would be fairly useful anyway although nowhere near as
complete a service.
Most tools i`ve come across are designed to be as easy to use as
possible, and can even be customized to fit the look of your
site, catering for different background colors, custom images or
just plain text.
Well designed tools will degrade nicely with a variety of
browsers being used, sure they may not display correctly( or
maybe not at all) in old browsers or some mobile phones but the
tools are only meant for extra functionality, not to be used as
the backbone of your websites content (content is, after all, KING)
Even when tools aren`t overly customisable such as a Facebook
badge. It`s going to be a simple way of adding functionality
without diving into code to a great extent.
Possible disadvantages of 3rd
It`s not all blue skies, shining suns and a nice beach party
maybe afterwards. Whilst I doubt much of this applies for the
short term it may be handy if you notice oddities on your
If the third party plug-ins are made unreliable due to server
downtime or unexpectedly large amounts of traffic, the plug-in
could slow your site down to a crawl. Most tools rely heavily on
tools on a website can cause a significant delay in page loading
Not too much of a problem provided you utilize methods to improve
the speed of your website, the Page
Speed Tool from Google and Yahoo`s aptly named YSlow are
great plug-ins for Firefox which indicate page loading times and
displaying areas where your site can improve.
Not all plug-ins are compatible
with SSL encryption.
Particularly noticeable in the case of e-commerce sites. This can
be a real pain to figure out sometimes, checking the stylesheet,
only to find the handy plug-in you`ve added to the site needs to
be removed or altered in certain cases. This can usually be
prevented through some nice PHP / ASP to check which port your
website is using (443 (SSL) or 80 (Unencrypted)) but can prove to
be an annoyance.
Some tools, most noticeably the Google Analytics Tracker
run nicely in both secure and unsecure environments (Google
Analytics even offering asynchronous loading with the loading of
the webpage) without causing the dreaded "unsecure elements
are being displayed on this page" notification to pop-up and
scare users away from your secure area / shopping cart. I really
wish this was available with the popular "Add This"
service. That and perhaps better debugging in browsers when this
occurs would help matters out.
To summarize, third party tools are largely a blessing for your
site, just don`t rely too heavily upon them., particularly if
page loading times are an issue. If they drop out all of a
sudden, visit the makers website to check if it`s still available
or perhaps requires an updated code.
I`ve listed a couple of my favourites in this article and below.
They`re all FREE which is
even better! If you can recommend any others, either contact me
via Twitter or e-mail me
directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Simply a must for every website, makes tracking visitors
and analysing your sites progress really easy.
Google Webmaster Tools -
Added by simply uploading a verification File / adding a
small meta tag. This works well in tandem with analytics for
tracking your websites SERPs, checking for malware,
geo-targeting your website and is regularly having new
features added to it.
Page Speed - A great Firefox plug-in for web
developers. Advises you on changes to make and even,
essentially makes some changes for you in terms of saving
images in smaller formats, etc.
YSlow - Another tool for
analysing loading times of your website.
Add This - As explained in
the article, a great, customisable, social bookmarking
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